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how to survive UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS boot camp

Updated on November 16, 2010

Ive held down several different jobs in my life, and carried several different titles, but none of them have stuck with me like that of United States Marine. And it all started in United States Marine Corps boot camp, April 11, 2000.

The Marines have the longest boot camp in the armed forces. It is an event that will break you down, physically and mentally, and rebuild you into a warrior. The change really is forever. For those of you interested in taking part of this journey, I can offer several tips on what to expect- and little tips to make your own time easier.


No more, no less. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is. There is a common boot camp "game" where the Drill instructor will tell the recruits "Counting down from ten, at the count of three, get on line and stand at the position of attention, no matter what." (Well, what he actually says is worse, but this is a family hubpages!) The drill instructor will then tell the recruits "put your boots on" and start counting backwards from ten.

Whatever recruit is stupid enough to continue messing with his boots is going to get screamed at (or worse). It takes a lot of practice to put on a pair of boots at the count of ten, and most of you wont make it. But as long as you DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD, and stand on the line at the POA, you will be obeying orders. In fact, as soon as the entire platoon does this, you'll probably get enough time to put your boots on the right way.


This is probably the best advice I ever got in boot camp. It came from a recruit that had been dropped back from training, and had to spend an extra month. When I asked him how he managed to do it, he told me that he lived "Tray to tray, chow to chow." I immediatedly adopted the same outlook. In Marine Corps boot camp, if you focus on the whole thing, it can be overwhelming. Instead, in the morning, concentrate on breakfast. After breakfast, until lunch, concentrate on lunch. After lunch, concentrate on dinner. Boot camp will probably be such a physically demanding chore, that you'll find yourself starving. But if you break up the time into manageable chunks like this, it's a lot easier.

The farther you make it into boot camp, the larger chunks you can break it into. On sunday, at the end of the week, you will get about an hour and a half to either go to the recruit chapel or have a little personal time to write or read letters. This is something that can substain you throughout the entire week! Before you ship, learn the training schedule. Think, "This is series drill week, next week is Swim qual" That will help take you out of the moment, as difficult as it may seem, and make you think of the entire thing as a system. Which it is!


I'm going to teach you how to go to the bathroom.

You ready?


A little different, huh?

That is exactly what you must say, every time you need to pee. While at the position of attention, and while NOT LOOKING at the drill instructor you are addressing.

While at boot camp, until you graduate, you are going to refer to your self in the third person. Not as "me" but as "This recruit." You are going to refer to all drill instructors as "sir." You are going to give all drill instructors the appropriate greeting of the day "Good morning sir" Good evening sir" I once saw a recruit urinate on himself, because he was unable to remember the appropriate way to ask the go to the bathroom, so he couldn't go! I can't tell you to practice this phrase, but you should.


In boot camp, enthusiasm matters a lot. Can't do more than four pull ups? Sweat and strain out half a fifth. Feel like you lungs are about to explode, try to dig deep, and keep running. Remember why you are there in the first place, to become a Marine. Remember that most people are to scared to try that in the first place. Your enthusiasm will rub off on the other recruits. It will also rub off on the DI's who like nothing more than a recruit with "heart."

There's a lot in here I didn't cover, getting in shape for boot camp, how long it is, etc. The truth of the matter is, the Marine Corps boot camp can put you through a pretty amazing physical transformation, and trying to get "in shape" for it is next to pointless. The main part of boot camp is mostly mental, and the battle of trying to get through it exists mostly in your head.

At the end of boot camp there is a ceremony in front of an Iwo Jima memorial where the Drill Instructor presents each recruit with a small metal eagle, globe and anchor, to signify each recruit becoming a marine. 90% of the recruits in my platoon cried when receiving it- myself included. The event is so dramatic, such a huge shift in your life. So stay motivated.

And drink plenty of water.


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    • profile image

      Jayssson 3 years ago

      I leave January 5th 2015

    • profile image

      NateJ9301 5 years ago

      Me too, January 14. Oorah!

    • profile image

      chrisj 5 years ago

      leave jan14 2013 too good luck

    • profile image

      Merk311 5 years ago

      Hey Sam I leave the same day you do!

    • sonnyhodgin profile image

      Sonny Hodgin 5 years ago from Indiana

      Love that part about staying hydrated. I had 2 heat strokes at OCS and got the silver bullet twice. Not fun.

    • profile image

      Kommadant 5 years ago

      Good article. It is always funny looking back at how ridiculous boot camp actually was. I can still remember when we got on line in our underwear every night and had to repeat "this recruit has no injuries to report at this time, sir!" It was like being treated like little children. Ah, hilarious times.

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      Zez 5 years ago

      Haha thank you very much for the info. Can't wait for boot camp as I leave for MCRD San Diego in 25 days, can't wait for the transformation and the craziness that is the United States Marine Corps. oorah!

    • profile image

      Sam Gersh 6 years ago

      can't wait i leave for boot january 14th 2013

    • profile image

      Carlos Gutierrez 6 years ago

      This really hepls me a lot on my future career cause I want to become a United States Marine after im finished with high school.Now I know what I will need to do to keep me motivaited and ready to becoming a U.S Marine

    • profile image

      Kyle Anderson  7 years ago

      So you see the picture of that Marine DI, Well he was actually my drill instructor in 2005. He was the Kill Hat Drill Instuctor and I feared him the most out of all four of them assigned to our boot camp platoon. Right at the end of boot camp he turned out to be an ok guy and we learned a lot from him. Thank you Drill Instructor SGT Hollon.

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      jessica 7 years ago

      we should all give thanks to our military forces for fighting for our country they truly deserve it,they have heart ,dedication and they show courage and commitment through it all:)

    • profile image

      Frank 7 years ago

      During the Berlin crises I was in basic training at lackland afb in San Antonia. We all thought we would have it easy being in the Air Force. The only problem, our drill instructor was a former Marine drill instructor. He told us rigt off he was going to train us like marines. We did have tougher than the other platoons, but i am sure it was not even close to Marine

      training. I wanted to join the Marines but my mom was so

      upset about it I just went into the Air Force. I know now

      she was right. Thousands of Marines were killed in nam

      I guess Moms are always right, but I still always wanted

      to be a Marine. they gave us all our shots for nam, but

      orders were changed at the last min. My cousin was not so

      lucky. He was killed in nam. God bless all Vets who served their Country